John Smith’s Modern Pubs in the North, 1967-69

This is another in our series of posts sharing photographs and details about post-war pubs from mouldering magazines. This time, it’s John Smith’s of Tadcaster and the magazine is The Magnet.

We’ve only got three editions — we’d love more — but they’re packed with good stuff if, that is, your definition of good stuff is profiles of plain-looking modern pubs on housing estates in places like Sheffield and Doncaster.

The Flarepath, Dunsville, South Yorkshire

Exterior of The Flarepath.

The headline for this piece in The Magnet is A ROYAL AIR FORCE PUB — The Flarepath, which opened in November 1967, served RAF Lindholme, near Doncaster.

The sign of The Flarepath.

The name refers to an illuminated runway used by bombers returning from night-raids over Germany during World War II. (Again, another wonderful name squarely of its time.)

The Lindholme Lounge at The Flarepath.

The carpet in the lounge was specially woven and featured a Lancaster bomber taking off and the bars were decorated with RAF squadron crests. There were photographs of various types of bomb, again from the Imperial War Museum archive, on the walls.

Mr & Mrs Varley.

Its first managers were Joyce Varley and her husband Arthur, late of the Magnet Hotel, Bentley.

Is it still there? Yes, with John Smith’s signage outside, too.

The Staff of Life, Doncaster

The exterior of the Staff of Life pub, Doncaster.
This is another one we love — a low-key town-centre booze bunker with lovely exterior typography. It opened in September 1967 and was notable for having no car park because it served a pedestrian shopping precinct.

‘The drinking public is looking for comfort nowadays’, said manager Eric Pollard, with reference to the lounge. It had strip lighting which was no doubt very trendy then but isn’t necessarily the stuff of which cosy pubs are made.

Is is still there? Yes, according to WhatPub. The current signage isn’t as nice but it looks well-maintained.

The Golden Fleece, Doncaster

Exterior of the Golden Fleece pub, Doncaster, c.1968.

This pub, which opened in October 1967, replaced a prefab constructed by Whitworth’s Brewery c.1950 on the Wheatley Park Estate.

The lounge at the Golden Fleece.

It had ‘green and yellow curtains, light rust wall seating, mustard chairs and stools’ — something like this?

Pub colour scheme.
Wallpaper design from Wikimedia Commons.

If the manager, Mr Gordon Elstub, a former miner, asked you to leave, you wouldn’t argue, would you?

Mr and Mrs Elstub behind the bar.

Is it still there? It’s hard to tell. There’s a 2013 Whatpub listing but it looks like a building site on Street View.

The Turf Tavern, Doncaster

The Turf Tavern (exterior view).

A bit of a booze bunker that could just as easily be a tax office or factory as a pub, this is one of those establishments whose story is a useful case study: planned for rebuilding in 1938 in Improved Pub style, the war got in the way. Then, when they resurrected the plans in the 1950s, it was discovered that the council planned to run a relief road through the original site. So this pub, which finally re-opened in December 1967, 30 years behind schedule, was built to a new design, on a new site. Phew!

Lounge at the Turf Tavern.

It was ‘decorated and furnished in luxurious Victorian style’ with fake oil lamps, and managed by Mr and Mrs Hamilton.

Is it still there? It was derelict for a long time but seems to have been redeveloped with flats above and a bar below.

The Hare & Hounds, Stannington (Sheffield), South Yorkshire
The Hare & Hounds (exterior)
(Image slightly touched up by us.)

Not quite an estate pub, this — far too aspirational. ‘A great deal of pine has been used in The Hare & Hounds giving it what one might describe as a Scandinavian look.’

The Connolly Family behind the bar.

It was managed by a former civil engineer, Frank Connolly, with his wife Vera and daughter Josephine. The latter said, ‘There is no “best” room here’, meaning that there were two public rooms, both posh. This is the Stirrup Cup lounge:

The Stirrup Cup lounge.

Is it still there? No, or at least, it’s not trading as a pub. It looks pretty sad on the 2012 Street View imagery.

The Batemoor, Sheffield

The Batemoor, exterior.

Whoever wrote this one up for The Magnet clearly struggled to find much to say about this box like booze bunker and so went on a flight of fancy:

Unconventional in many respects and extremely symmetrical, The Batemoor, which was recently opened in Norton, Sheffield, could well be used as a model for the first public house on the moon. And that sort of dream may be a reality before many more years have passed.

The lounge at The Batemoor.The lounge (above) had a blue carpet, black and ‘light fawn’ upholstered seating and an ornate bar in the brewery’s house style. (Fibreglass fripperies.)

Is it still there? The building, yes, but it’s now a convenience store.

The Traveller’s Rest, Shuttlewood, Derbyshire

Exterior view of The Traveller's Rest, Shuttlewood.

This pub replaced a Victorian hotel that had served a thriving mining community just outside Chesterfield, which dwindled when the coal ran out.

Nessie and Fred Barnes.

In its new incarnation, it was run by Nessie and Fred Barnes. He was a former Royal Navy man (Fleet Air Arm) and his grandfather was England cricketer William Barnes.

The lounge bar at the Traveller's Rest

The pub was, in the loosest, least impressive sense, a ‘theme pub’, the name inspiring some fibreglass panels on the front of the bar in the lounge and… that was about it.

Is it still there? It doesn’t look like it — intelligence to the contrary welcome.

The Desert Rat, Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire

Exterior of the The Desert Rat.

This is one of our absolute favourite post-war pubs — what a fantastic name that really could only have been bestowed in the wake of World War II. As you can see from the picture, it’s also uncompromisingly modern — almost American in style — and stood on the Westcliff Estate. The slightly weird look of the pub was actually pragmatic: it was built on the site of ‘an old dew pond’ and thus stood on piles, some of them sunk 15 metres deep.

A frieze at the Desert Rat.

Major F.R. Warwick, Managing Director of John Smith’s in the 1960s, served in North Africa himself, and said at the opening:

It is not our intention to glorify war, for war is never glorious… However, whilst war may bring out an individual’s characteristics it also brings out the best in men. Such as comradeship, courage and a sharpened sense of humour and nowhere was this more apparent than the Western Desert.

The pub was decorated with Eighth Army shoulder flashes, fibreglass friezes depicting battle scenes, and official war photographs from the Imperial War Museum.

Susan and Brian Wilkinson

It was run by Eric Morecambe lookalike Brian Wilkinson and his wife Susan, who were 30 and 28 respectively. People looked older back then, didn’t they?

Is it still there? It was until the end of 2016 but has now been demolished, as far as we can tell. Here’s what Street View has:

The Harlequin, Thorne, South Yorkshire

The sign of the Harlequin.

Thorne is near Doncaster and was already ‘in plight’ thanks to pit closures when this pub opened in March 1968 and ‘the construction of The Harlequin was regarded as an act of faith’.

Exterior of the Harlequin.

It was decorated throughout with harlequins, including a fibreglass sculpture designed to look like bronze. The furniture was purple, green and blue, matching the curtains. (Shame the photos are all black and white.) There was a telly and deep fat fryers — very modern — and was run by George and Dilys Cuthbertson.

The lounge bar at The Harlequin.

Is it still there? Perhaps astonishingly, yes! We can’t help but wonder what the inside looks like these days.

The Nook, Armley (Leeds), West Yorkshire

The exterior of The Nook.

The Nook was famous for its parties, according to The Magnet, organised by Mrs Sylvia Hardy, wife of the licensee, and themed around ‘tramps’, Easter bonnet competitions, Halloween, and Valentine’s Day: ‘Mr and Mrs Hardy have discovered the average person loves dressing up.’

The barmaids of The Nook.

‘About a dozen gorgeous barmaids, suitably attired, help to put a good deal of swing into things at The Nook.’ Swing, eh? Nudge nudge. Among the staff was Miss Leeds and Miss Leeds United, June Wilkinson (centre, above).

Is it still there? Yes! Should I go in fancy dress? Undetermined.

The Norfolk Arms, Sheffield

The Norfolk Arms, exterior.

Here’s a fun story: the old Norfolk Arms was demolished ready for this new one to be built, which revealed a river everyone had forgotten about. Consequently, the brewery had to adapt the design, ending up with this odd, pointed booze bunkerette. Here’s ‘the narrow public bar’:

The public bar at the Norfolk with modern chairs and tables.

Is it still there? Hard to say for sure but it seems unlikely.

The Wordsworth Tavern, Sheffield

Exterior of the The Wordsorth Tavern.

They were so proud of this pub which replaced a 17-year-old prefab.

Lounge at The Wordsworth.

The new building had a plush lounge with a jukebox, ‘magnificent purple carpet’, mustard seating and yellow wallpaper. Crikey.

Is it still there: No, because of this, it seems.

The White Bear, Wath-upon-Dearne

Exterior of the White Bear, Wath.

This pub replaced an old inn of the same name which was demolished during construction of the new housing estate. The public bar had wooden floors and stools, while the lounge had carpet and bucket seats — the standard pattern.

(We used to know people from Wath-on-Dearne; they always called it Where-upon-Earth.)

Is it still there? No, it’s a branch of Costcutter now.

The Strong Wood, Scarborough

Exterior view of The Strong Wood

This is actually a rather nice looking building with a hint of pre-war style about it. It overlooked a corporation bowling green and the name was a reference to that sport. It had ‘clean line’ furniture throughout and a lot of pale wood. We would pay good money to drink in this room:

The Lounge of the Strong Wood.

Is it still there? It doesn’t seem to be. Shame.

Next time: Modern Pubs of 1960, from various sources.

8 thoughts on “John Smith’s Modern Pubs in the North, 1967-69”

  1. This somewhere in between sad, fascinating, and lovely.

    All the pubs have an upper floor that seems more like a home than a pub. Is that where the landlord lives, or what?

    1. Yes, usually. Licensing authorities liked having someone on site, as did the brewers who owned the pubs, and accommodation was a bonus for the tenants/managers.

      As it happens, I spent several years as a kid living in the flat above a pub. It was, as they often are, in poor repair and a cold. Noisy, too — my little brother’s first words, which I won’t repeat here, were probably learned from people shouting in the street at kicking out time…

  2. I’m 3/4 on the Doncaster pubs. The Staff of Life and the Turf Tavern are/were in the Waterdale Centre and the Staff for one was a pleasant town centre Wards pub away from the main drag until Wards went bust and it became a John Smith’s pub. The Turf was a little daunting as it looked like an extension of the council offices and was a hangout for council and college staff.
    The Flarepath was interesting as it was on the flightpath into Lindholme so it was possible to watch planes coming in at fearfully low levels until the base shut down.

  3. Great stuff. Not my patch but two things catch the eye. One is Miss Leeds’ tan – very flash for the time. The other is the general scariness of the wives – never mind Mr Elstub, it’s his missus I’d be worried about. The Wilkinsons look fun though.

  4. I’ve finally realized what I’ve been missing in my local. It isn’t “extremely symmetrical”! Nor does it have purple carpet or mustard seating. Thanks for the education.

  5. Not wanting to be a pedant – but I’m going to be anyway – some of those pubs are clearly signed “Barnsley Bitter”.

    Bit of a touchy subject with me as Barnsley Bitter was my introduction to good beer. A classic killed off by John Smith. Bastards. And they shut Holes. Double bastards.

  6. The Norfolk Arms in Sheffield is still there albeit empty and for sale, it was painted up ready to be a lap dancing club but the licence was rejected. Anyone fancy buying I and reopening it under its original name? I used to go in there regularly at one time as it was an ideal pre gig venue as I is next door to The Leadmill club, it was also frequented by many bus drivers from the garage opposite, now closed

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